There’s a lot of anticipation surrounding Christie’s sale of Chinese Contemporary Art this weekend based upon the success of Sotheby’s $27m April sale, which showed surprising strength given concerns over China’s domestic economy. The question is whether Chinese Contemporary art (where top works currently sell within a $1-3m band with top prices reaching $10m) is on a trajectory to converge—over the long run—with Western Contemporary works (which sell in a band of $5-20m and top works reach $50m.) Here’s some of the thinking from Jing Daily‘s Chinese language site:
With blue-chip art often referred to as a remarkably consistent asset class on a historical level, expect to see Chinese demand remain strong and pragmatic for the best and most valuable artwork and antiques.
If — as we expect — the Chinese art market is populated more by serious collectors this year, intent on holding onto quality works to sidestep inflation, give face, populate private museums and diversify assets, 2013 could be a better year all around for auction houses in mainland China, Hong Kong, and worldwide. At the same time, baseline prices are still rising slowly against established Western names, making Chinese art still relatively undervalued — something that Chinese collectors keenly understand, which is why they’re purchasing only the best works now and holding onto their collections.
Aside from baseline prices for modernist Chinese painters like Zhang Daqian and Qi Baishi, Chinese buyers have pushed the boundaries of pricing in the contemporary art market as well, leading prices for the best works by top Chinese contemporary artists to pre-global economic crisis levels. As top Western contemporary artists like Warhol, Rothko, Still, Lichtenstein, Bacon and Basquiat all sit firmly in the US$5-50 million range at auction, as time goes by we should see auction prices for multi-million-dollar living contemporary Chinese artists like Zhang Xiaogang (whose works broke the $10 million mark in 2011 and still sell well into the millions of dollars), Zeng Fanzhi (who reached $9.7 million in 2008), and others continue to climb in tandem with the broader global auction market and gradually close the gap with their Western counterparts.